A 21st Century Henny-Penny Tale

Alas and alack! Oh, woe is me! Here in the heart of Chicken-dale, northwest Arkansas, home to millions of white-feathered birds who eventually get delivered in one form or another to the grocery stores … and after that, end up on platters at the center of our dinner tables … there’s a crisis of epic proportions going on!

A Crisis, I tell you! The magnitude of this crisis is stunning and beyond belief. Given the stories coming from the television news, the newspapers and various online hysteria-mongers, nothing so bad as this has happened since … what? Chick-Fil-A Day back in July of 2012?sky-is-falling-2

Please don’t get ahead of me here. To my knowledge this particular crisis has nothing to do with describing the former First Lady of Arkansas (the insincere, er, out of touch, er, polarizing, er, esteemed Hillary Clinton) as ambitious, calculating, disingenuous or any of the notoriously “sexist” words now banned by Clinton supporters who’ve identified the words as “coded sexism.” As serious a misstep as that would be to let slip one of the verboten terms in reference to HRC, this is not the current crisis of which I speak. Continue Reading →

Where Is God?

Job didn’t gloss over things. As Chapter 23 in The Book of Job opens, Job readily admits:  “I am still complaining today. I groan because God is still making me suffer.” Instead of addressing the observations made by Eliphaz in the previous chapter, Job simply states the facts:  I’m complaining, I’m groaning, all this suffering is causing me to act like a grumpy old man.

FROM:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

Complainers don’t win a lot of fans. When friend go through hard times, we want to give them leeway, permit some grousing, just enough to communicate our willingness to sympathize with their situations. But for the friend who builds a reputation as a perpetual complainer, we’re not quite as sympathetic or patient. More often than not, we’re repelled. We have nicknames for them:  Debbie Downer … Negative Nancy … wet blanket … buzzkill. Continue Reading →

I’ll Be There For You

Twenty years ago, a television show called FRIENDS debuted. The series ran for ten seasons and chronicled the lives of six characters (3 guys, 3 girls), twenty-somethings living in New York City. Billed as a romantic-comedy series, the show aired to generally mixed reviews but quickly built an audience. In many respects, it was SEINFELD for younger adults. (Seinfeld’s primary characters also lived in NYC and were thirty-somethings.)Friends-ImageThough I’ve occasionally caught a clip or two from Friends as I flip through channels, I’ve never actually watched an entire episode. During its initial run, I didn’t exactly fit the age demographic. Now that it’s in syndication, it’s even less appealing to me. But friendship … now that’s something I can get jazzed about! Continue Reading →

Greatness Through Service

It’s always interesting to understand the perspective of other groups and organizations, especially how such groups identify the people considered to be most influential in our world. When I noticed Fortune had released “Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders: 50 intrepid guides for a messy world,” I clicked over, curious to know how Fortune’s choices might coincide with my own.Fortune Leaders

Fortune’s list is striking. Populated by CEOs, presidents of corporations and countries, university officials, founders and leaders of non-government organizations, financial gurus, retail and sports leaders and celebrities, it’s an impressive collection. The Pope, the Director of the FBI and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States rank high on the list, as well as two non-violent protesters from the August 2014 Ferguson MO civil unrest. Continue Reading →

A Woman’s Right to Know

One of my dear friends is serving her first term in the Arkansas House of Representatives. This week, she presented a bill that addresses a 2001 Arkansas law entitled The Woman’s Right to Know Act of 2001. After some 14 years, it’s reasonable to think changes in the law are timely and appropriate.Ingraham

My friend’s efforts to advance this bill through both legislative chambers and deliver it to the Governor’s desk were noticed by radio talk host and syndicated columnist Laura Ingraham (see Tweet above) as well as The Washington Times. The bill asserts women who are considering abortion have a right to know and have informed consent about risks associated with abortion. Further, by increasing the waiting period from 24 to 48 hours, the bill provides a greater period of reflection for women to weigh the possible psychological and physical costs of an abortion. Continue Reading →

Spring Break 1969

Back in 1969, a group of students climbed aboard a chartered Trailways bus departing from northwest Arkansas and bound for Daytona Beach FL. It was Spring Break and there were nearly fifty of us who made the 19-hour trip … guys and gals eager to unwind from long hours devoted to our studies. Drinking in the pleasures of warm weather and the smell of a salt sea would be a blessed change of pace!Daytona

We weren’t a particularly rowdy group though we could get noisy and our zest for life often overstepped bounds. We knew how to enjoy life and pursue “good, clean fun.” On our adventure to the beach, we anticipated enjoying the atmosphere of a week-long fun-in-the-sun party … in the company of about 50,000-75,000 other students. Continue Reading →

The Scourge of A Messy Kitchen

Over the last week and through the weekend, we’d been fairly busy here at our home. With four of us (plus a dog) living here, things can go from general clutter to chaotic pretty quickly … way faster than I remember from the time I had four small children running around the house!messy

By Monday morning when my Beloved, our grandson and my brother-in-law had all disappeared out the door headed for their jobs, I looked around at my kitchen and groaned. Dirty dishes were piled high in the double sink. Other dirty dishes were spread across the countertops. More dirty dishes and cooking pans littered the range-top. Only the kitchen table was clear of dirty dishes – most likely because the collection of newspapers and various reading materials monopolized that space. Continue Reading →

Beauty In The Last Breath

Kara Tippetts died yesterday. She was 38, the mother of four and wife of 17 years to Jason. Though I never had the pleasure to meet her, like scores of others, I “knew” her through a blog, Mundane Faithfulness, where she shared the story of her short life with grace and authenticity.Kara

My first acquaintance with Tippetts came last fall thanks to an open letter she’d written to another woman also suffering from cancer. That woman had decided to proactively end her own life before the cancer could kill her. In November, after that woman died (by her own hand), I posted my thoughts here. Again in January, I posted a second time (with a sonnet) when Kara’s blog announced she’d begun to receive hospice care. Continue Reading →

Toothless and Useless?

Utility knife. Utility tool-belt. Utility blanket. Utility bill. One of the foundational pillars of our culture is a focus on utility … on usefulness. We’re geared toward doing, making progress, accomplishing things. Take a look at the More Saving / More Doing folks of Home Depot commercials, some that employ the hashtag #LetsDoThis. They’ve captured the essence of our age. They understand we want the knowledge, the skills, the tools – sometimes even multi-purpose tools – to help us complete one task before moving onto the next.

FROM:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

There’s a downside to this focus on usefulness though. If an object isn’t perceived as useful, we’re trained to think of it as worthless. On an even more disturbing level, aging individuals are sometimes viewed as useless. Retirees may feel useless because they’re no longer doing the things they once did. They feel unproductive. Continue Reading →

That’s How It Should Be

In a recent New York Times post, columnist David Brooks opined on The Cost of Relativism. Brooks references a recently-released book by Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam entitled Our Kids (with the subtitle The American Dream In Crisis). Putnam’s book provides data with incisive analysis and the stories of real people to conclude kids (and young people) no longer have a shared system of values.homer-angel-deveil

In his column, Brooks uses one comparison to make the point. In the 1960s and 1970s, whether parents were college graduates or never went beyond high school, the norms of behavior for parents and children were roughly the same. Families ate dinner together, attended church together, engaged in activities as families.

Today, family wholeness is diminishing and the norms of behavior within the family have been shaken. There’s a huge and worrisome gap between offspring of college grads and high school grads:  only about 10% of children born to college grads will grow up in a single-parent home, while nearly 70% of children born to high school grads will. That’s a sobering reality! Continue Reading →

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